Paul Helm seems to have a nice understanding of Molinism. He wrote:
"What is middle knowledge? At the center of this recent interest has been God’s knowledge of possibilities involving human choice (the ‘counterfactuals of freedom’ as they have been called). Why this innovation? Its proponents are concerned to preserve what they consider to be two vital beliefs. The first is God’s providence and total foreknowledge. The second is the idea that human beings are ineradicably free in an indeterministic sense. When we speak of indeterministic freedom, we mean that any human being, in a given set of circumstances, has the power to choose A or to choose not-A. The problem is obvious. How can this be consistent with God’s universal providential rule and his purposes of redemption?"Yup.
He then goes on to explain, on Molinism, how that question is answered.
"The Molinists’ way of attempting to keep all this together was to suggest that there existed, besides God’s natural knowledge and his free knowledge, a third kind of knowledge. They argued that God also has “middle knowledge” (between the other two). What this means can be briefly explained. Given a whole array of possible worlds (that God knows), given worlds in which men and women were free in the relevant indeterministic sense, God knows what they would freely choose in every possible circumstance. God has knowledge of all such possible outcomes. If placed in one set of circumstances, God knows what Jones would freely choose. If placed in another set of circumstances, God knows what Jones would freely choose. This is true for all possible people and all possible circumstances. God has this middle knowledge by inspection of all the possibilities that the free will of each person might choose.Again, yup. You're correct sir. God chooses that possible world. He chooses what world to actualize. He sovereignly brings into being the individuals and circumstances that best serve His purposes. That is sovereign. Also, man's free will is still kept in the equation. This seems like a good way to explain the biblical concept of divine providence! Why then does Paul Helm, close to the end of his post, write this?
In His power and wisdom, He chooses that possible world, that total combination of individuals and circumstances, whose expressions of free will best serve His purposes. Thus, God’s omniscience is preserved, and human free will is preserved. The moral evil that occurs in the chosen world is not the direct responsibility of God but of those creatures who exercise their choices in a malevolent fashion."
"...the Molinists’ conception of free will makes it impossible for God to exercise providential control over his creation. Why? Because men and women would be free to resist His decree. God can only bring to pass the actions of free agents via his middle knowledge of what they would freely do if…
Further, given the Molinist view of freedom, it is impossible for God to bring about the conversion of any person by the exercise of His effective call, for in the view of the Molinists it is always possible for an individual to resist God’s grace. Men and women must freely cooperate with what God says and does if they are to become Christians. God’s grace is always resistible. Reformed Christians have no good reason to accept the speculative concept of middle knowledge and strong reasons to reject it."Why did Paul write that? I was reading along in the post thinking "Okay, he does understand this, he understands that. Huh, what is his concern then with molinism?" Then I get to the above part, "Whaaaaaaaat?" Men and women would be free to resist his decree? Actually no, the men and women who are created, living, making decisions, etc. are only doing so because God, in His power, wisdom, and sovereignty chose to make them to bring about His purposes. See that's the thing with molinism: it's not *just* foreknowledge. Simple foreknowledge doesn't get the same result as molinism. On molinism, God is working through all the various circumstances, decisions, possibilities, worlds, etc. that serve His purposes then he creates. He builds. He does what God does. It's not as if he creates everything then hopes, wishes, and pleads with man to conform to his plan. On the contrary, man does what God has chosen for reality (directly and indirectly, you know the permissive will thing).
I'm very surprised at Paul Helm's concerns with molinism. From my tadpole, amateur perspective it seems as though he is confusing molinism with open theism or general foreknowledge of the charismatic/pentecostal variety. I don't know. Someone help me out here.